Portland has modified its coronavirus relief grant and loan programs to make more city employers eligible for financial assistance.

Last month, Portland rolled out three financial aid programs to help struggling businesses in the city stay afloat and hire or retain employees.

But “unanticipated issues” made certain categories of small business that needed help ineligible for the first round of applications, the deadline for which expired two weeks ago, the city said Wednesday in a news release.

“Feedback from phone calls, emails and online meetings helped the Portland Development Corporation and the city’s Economic Development staff understand ways they could modify the three programs to assist more of Portland’s small businesses in need,” it said.

Under rules for the second round of funding, which started Wednesday, businesses may apply if they received up to $10,000 from state or federal financial programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program.

Home-based businesses are now eligible for micro-enterprise grants up to $2,500, and businesses with up to 15 employees can apply for Portland’s Rapid Response Micro Loan program.

Businesses now must have been open and operational as late as March 15 to be eligible for assistance.

Businesses have until July 8 to apply for the second round of assistance. The city said it approved four grants and one loan in the first round, but it did not specify the dollar amounts. There is a total of over $700,000 available between the three programs, it said.

In May, the city established three programs to assist businesses during the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Business Assistance Program for Job Creation provides $5,000 to rehire two or more full-time employees who were on payroll just before the pandemic. The jobs must be filled by low- or moderate-income people.

The Microenterprise Grant Program provides up to $2,500 for essential costs including rent, payroll and utilities to businesses owned by a low- or moderate-income person with one employee, or two part-time employees. The micro-enterprise and job creation grants are funded through city community block grants.

The Rapid Response Micro Loan program provides no-interest loans of up to $10,000 to companies with two to 15 employees that earned less than $1 million in 2019. Businesses will have $5,000 of the loan forgiven if 50 percent of employees are hired back within nine months of signing the loan agreement or six months after applicable stay-at-home or other COVID-19 emergency orders have been lifted. That program is funded with $400,000 from unrestricted city loan funds.


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